Hi everyone! Today, I’m here with Julia Ember, author of the upcoming release, UNICORN TRACKS. Keep reading on because I have an interview, plus a pretty awesome giveaway. Let’s get started!
Before we start, I also have a review of this book up. You can check it out here.
After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.
Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.
Julia was kind enough to agree to participate in an interview with me! My questions will be bolded; her answers will be in italics.
Tell us about your publishing journey.
Like most authors, I think I can say the publishing journey has been and continues to be, a bit of a stressful rollercoaster! My journey has been a bit untraditional in the sense that I signed with my publisher without having an agent. I queried agents with Unicorn Tracks, and although I did get a lot of full requests, ultimately I didn’t sign with one. I started querying small publishers in February of 2015 and in March, I got an offer from Harmony Ink Press. I’m in the rather unusual position for an author that I work in the book trade, so I was familiar enough with contracts to feel comfortable examining and negotiating my own advance, terms, etc. I’ve been really happy with the decision to publish with Harmony Ink.
Without spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?
That’s a hard one! I love writing kiss scenes, so probably all of those! (there are quite a few in Unicorn Tracks)
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I still harbour secret fantasies of becoming a vet, but I was terrible at chemistry and math, so that wasn’t really an option! I absolutely love animals and I think that’s pretty clear in the book, and everything else I write.
Were there alternate titles for your book? Why did you choose Unicorn Tracks?
To be honest, I never had other titles in mind. The title is kind of a play on words. The Unicorn bit is fairly obvious, but the ‘tracks’ refers both to the Safari element of looking for footprints, as well as railway tracks. In the book, Mnemba and Kara have to free the Unicorns when they are captured to build a railway that will bring new weapons into Nazwimbe.
If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I think I might make the ending a bit longer and drawn out. Of the early reviews I’ve had a few people have commented that the ending felt a bit rushed. I think when I initially submitted the manuscript and went through the edits, even with the publisher, I was a bit too close to the book to see it. But now, a year and a bit on, I definitely do see what they mean. I’m not really the type of author who gets overly sensitive about criticism. I use it and learn from it. Rushed endings are something I will watch out for in my future books.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Tamora Pierce! When I was growing up, there were a lot less female-led fantasy novels than there are now. Not that I’m particularly old, but I think what is being released in YA today is totally different in the late 90s and early 00s than it is today. I love Sarah J Maas now, and I genuinely think I love her because I see so many parallels to what she writes and what Tamora Pierce released then! I also have to say that the Fan fiction community was transformative for me.
Do you have any projects you’re working on now that you can share?
I have a YA Fantasy trilogy contracted to publish in 2017/2018! I am super excited about the Tiger’s Watch, which is the first book in the series. When I queried it, I described it as The Winner’s Curse meets Under a Painted Sky with a Non-Binary protagonist. It’s an epic spy-thriller fantasy set in a Bhutanese inspired monastery with a magical tiger.
Originally from the Windy City, Julia Ember now resides in Sunny Scotland where she learned to enjoy both haggis and black pudding. She spends her days working as a professional Book Nerd for a large book wholesaler, and her nights writing YA Romantic Fantasy novels. She also spends an inordinate amount of time managing her growing city-based menagerie of pets with Harry Potter themed names. Presently, she is the haggard slave Sirius Black and Luna Lovegood the cats and Bellatrix Le Snake. She also owns a freakishly adorable cob pony called Africa.
A world traveller since childhood, Julia has now visited over 60 countries. Her travels inspire the fictional worlds she writes about and she populates those worlds with magic and monsters.
(US/CAN/UK only) Giveaway includes:
– Signed copy of Unicorn Tracks
– Swag incl. Postcard and Bookmark
– African Tribal Pattern Headband
– Unicorn Plush
– Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah Adult Colouring book with Pencils — Author will colour and sign the first page! ❤
– Artisan Spiced Chocolate — Mnemba’s favourite.